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Aaron Sabato Signs, Sees Twins as Perfect Fit

On Tuesday afternoon, the Twins officially signed their 2020 first-round draft pick, Aaron Sabato. Slot value was $2.57 million. Sabato and the Twins reached an agreement at $2.75 million.
Image courtesy of Rebecca Lawson
When meeting with media, Aaron Sabato reiterated often just how well he fits into the Minnesota Twins organization. At one point, he noted, “I’m in the perfect spot with this organization and I want to be a Minnesota Twin.”

That connection is obvious. As we discussed before the draft, the Sean Johnson-led Twins scouting group has made a concerted effort to select powerful collegiate bats in the high rounds. That has been evident in the selections of Brent Rooker, Ryan Jeffers, Matt Wallner and now Aaron Sabato; all college sluggers who absolutely mash.

In 83 college games at North Carolina (64 in 2019, 19 in 2020), he hit .332/.459/.698 (1.158) with 31 doubles, 25 homers and 81 RBI. He walked 61 times to go with 72 strikeouts.

Sabato recalled a conversation he had with Twins minor league hitting coordinator Donegal Fergus shortly following the draft. Sabato said that Fergus reiterated the Twins hitting philosophy. “We want you to swing at strikes. We want you to take balls, and we want you to hit the ball a long way and do it at a high rate without striking out and walking a ton. For me, that’s what I base my hitting about. I’m trying to do the most damage on every pitch, but also be disciplined enough to take my walks and spit on the good pitches.”

Sabato knew right then and there that he was in a great situation for himself. “Right there, (I realized) that I was in a pretty good spot with the organization that had just drafted me.”

Sabato discussed drills that he has done often in college with his hitting coaches. He stands in the batter’s box and takes pitches, calling out the pitch type and its location. He said it has helped burn into his brain what strikes and balls look like, and ultimately which pitches he can try to hit really hard.

He also talked about hitting against top pitchers such as former Gopher right-hander, and the #3 overall pick in the 2020 draft, Max Meyer in February.

It is a challenge, of course, but Sabato has learned how he wants to handle those situations.

“People say you have to get amped up, but for me it’s How calm can I be and How relaxed can I be against the best guys? And that’s when I’m at my best.” Sabato continued, “I realized I need to get more disciplined and more fine tuned in how I go about it. That’s what I’ve learned. I stopped worrying about who I am facing and started just worrying about what am I doing in the box.”

The reality is that he has lofty goals for himself and all pitchers that he will face going forward are going to be good, and should he get to the big leagues, he will want to remain calm for every at bat.

“I want to play Major League Baseball, and I want to do really well for a really long time.”

With the signing of Sabato, the Twins have signed three of their four 2020 draft picks. Last week, they signed UT outfielder Alerick Soularie and prep pitcher Marco Raya. Kala’i Rosario, a high school outfielder from Hawaii, was their fifth round pick. He remains unsigned. The team is about $150,000 under their slot value, so they could go well above Rosario’s slot value of about $330,000.

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11 Comments

Thanks for this information about Sabato, Seth.

 

When drafted I had read that the Twins took him earlier than most had him slotted for. Based on that, I expected he would be signed well under slot. So I was surprised when the rumors surfaced that they would need to go over slot.

 

Are you aware of those early stories that the Twins took him earlier than most expected? When reading what you and others have written the past few days, he sure looks like another good pick by the Twins.

 

You mentioned several sluggers drafted early by the Twins above. You didn't include Larnach. Do you not consider him a slugger like Rooker, et. al?

    • mikelink45 likes this

I believe the next contract will call for home run derbies to replace games and we are ready.

    • Seth Stohs, Dantes929, Longdistancetwins and 1 other like this

Not about Sabato, but it seems like the last draftee to sign a contract has a negotiating advantage in that it's public exactly how much money is left.

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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 24 2020 08:53 AM

does all the slot stuff matter with this particular draft? I thought all additional FAs were capped at a dollar amount.

 

Thanks for this information about Sabato, Seth.

 

When drafted I had read that the Twins took him earlier than most had him slotted for. Based on that, I expected he would be signed well under slot. So I was surprised when the rumors surfaced that they would need to go over slot.

 

Are you aware of those early stories that the Twins took him earlier than most expected? When reading what you and others have written the past few days, he sure looks like another good pick by the Twins.

 

You mentioned several sluggers drafted early by the Twins above. You didn't include Larnach. Do you not consider him a slugger like Rooker, et. al?

 

Larnach should have been inclujded as a college bat, but at the same time, he's just such a good all-around hitter that he doesn't fit that same profile. I don't know. 

 

As for Sabato, I looked at a few pre-draft mock drafts. I think Baseball America had Sabato going 14th overall. I saw him in the late teens in another one. I think on draft day, Jonathan Mayo had him going #27 to the Twins. 

 

So I don't think he was an over-draft at all. 

 

Jeremy Nygaard reminded me on Twitter that Sabato is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he had two more years of eligibility. 

    • mikelink45 and rdehring like this

 

does all the slot stuff matter with this particular draft? I thought all additional FAs were capped at a dollar amount.

 

The cap is only related to the draft, not the free agents. 

 

Larnach should have been inclujded as a college bat, but at the same time, he's just such a good all-around hitter that he doesn't fit that same profile. I don't know. 

 

As for Sabato, I looked at a few pre-draft mock drafts. I think Baseball America had Sabato going 14th overall. I saw him in the late teens in another one. I think on draft day, Jonathan Mayo had him going #27 to the Twins. 

 

So I don't think he was an over-draft at all. 

 

Jeremy Nygaard reminded me on Twitter that Sabato is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he had two more years of eligibility. 

Thanks, Seth. Had probably seen that in some comment section. Obviously, it wasn't accurate and the Twins are fortunate they got him. Sure seems like a good fit for this current squad and the organization was somewhat weak at the corner infield spots.

I know FanGraphs tabbed Sabato as a bat-only player and weren't super high on him. It's certainly a high bar, but there were plenty of people on here that were initially unhappy that the Twins signed a bat-only player in Nelson Cruz. Then again...Tyler Austin. Here's to hoping Sabato's bat is more Cruz than Austin! 

    • Longdistancetwins and DocBauer like this

I liked the drill he talked about.I think maybe Twins should make Buxton do that.I am happy about the quote of the hitting plan.Hit strikes hard and don't worry about walks.Mitch Garver took that and ran with it this past year.There was many stories of Twins swing at first pitches, that also backs up the swing hard at strikes approach.Many times the first pitch is the best one you will see, so why take it just to work the count.Look your spot and let it swing, take anything else. 

 

Here is to hoping the kid has the true power.His bat is what will make him a player.In terms of where he falls on lists, who cares about those lists.So many people are wrong on those lists, just like so many of us are wrong at our guesses of who will do what. 

    • DocBauer likes this

That batting average and walk rate bode well.Just like I want a pitcher to have "stuff" rather than velocity I like hitters to have more than just power. 

    • DocBauer likes this

That batting average and walk rate bode well.Just like I want a pitcher to have "stuff" rather than velocity I like hitters to have more than just power.


I posted shortly after the draft that there was a common theme regarding all 3 position players drafted, in addition to other "corner" type players drafted in the past few years with our FO and revamped scouting department. You obviously want and need some HIT ability. Pure "80" power does nothing if you can never put the bat on the ball. But it appears the Twins look for power and potential power with BB ability and will live with some SO. Think Sano. Sano has great power, but can hit. He also takes BB and usually maintains a solid to high OB despite his SO totals.

Sabato is pretty young, so I don't expect a fast track being a 21yr old sophomore, but who knows maybe. I live his approach and the mentorship his hitting instructor gave him. Despite not being a versatile player...in the least...not every player on your roster has to have positional versatility. There is absolutely room for a quality 1B/DH only who can hit and mash. I'd like to think that coaching, work and repetition can turn him in to at least a decent fielding 1B.

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